People in southern Saskatchewan, particularly farmers, are being warned to prepare for potentially severe spring flooding.
Last summer was the wettest on record in parts of the province, and higher-than-normal amounts of rain and snow in the fall and winter have officials concerned about the spring runoff.
According to a report by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, the outlook for spring 2011 calls for high runoff, especially in the agricultural area of the province. The snow pack in the province's main growing region is deeper than normal, and yet more snow is expected before winter's end.
“Even with average weather conditions between now and runoff, there will be some flooding,” the report says. “Unfavorable weather conditions between now and spring runoff, such as above normal precipitation or a rapid melt, will significantly increase the level of flooding.”
The Souris, Missouri and Assiniboine and Qu'Appelle river basins are all forecast to experience higher than normal runoff. More detailed reports will be released in March and April.
Much of flood-prone Manitoba is also on high alert. Authorities are concerned flooding this year could approach 1997 levels. That year, the “flood of the century“ displaced nearly 30,000 people.
Representatives of the Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments met on Friday to discuss issues of common interest, including a strategy to mitigate flood damage in both provinces. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and Saskatchewan Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz agreed to work together on prevention strategies, including volunteer training, sandbagging and equipment sharing.
Krawetz said it's imperative the two provinces co-operate to prevent loss of life and property.
“Mother Nature does not recognize provincial boundaries,” he said.
With files from the Canadian Press and CBC Manitoba.